CHRIS ASHTON admits that while Jonny May still has plenty to learn if he is to star at the 2015 World Cup, the Gloucester winger has the fearless attitude to get him there, writes Charlie Talbot-Smith.
Cherry & Whites star May is very much flavour of the month when it comes to England wings right now, having started all four of the team's 2014 Six Nations games so far, with Ashton not even named among the replacements.
And while May has so far failed to bag a maiden Test try, having also started against Argentina last summer, he has impressed with his all-round play.
The first game against France saw him break his nose. However, he was not about to let it stand in his way, taking his place in the starting line-up for the victory over Scotland just a week later.
Former Wootton Bassett RFC youngster May went on to put in solid performances in victories over both Ireland and Wales and it is his desire to prove he belongs on the big stage that convinced Ashton that the pretender to the throne has what it takes to stay in the spotlight.
“Jonny has had plenty of involvement in the games, he is keen to get involved and touch the ball which is a good sign,” said Ashton.
“You don’t want someone who is going to hide away but he is keen and that is only going to help him grow in confidence.
“In his first few caps, I have been impressed with how he has fared, it was tough in France and to lose like that in your first Six Nations match is always hard.
“When you get to the situation of a World Cup, if these lads have not got experience they are not useless, but it takes time to get up to speed and you cannot afford to take that risk sometimes.
“Stuart (Lancaster) wanted to give them that experience, to give them a taste for it and the likes of Jonny are repaying him.”
While May is in possession of an England starting spot right now he knows that any slip-ups will be pounced upon by those waiting in the wings – the likes of Ashton, Christian Wade and Marland Yarde.
And Ashton believes that the current crop of wingers – which also includes Jack Nowell with the Exeter Chief – are in for a dogfight right up until the 2015 World Cup.
“Jack and Jonny have been going well for their clubs and with Christian and Marland injured or just coming back there just isn’t that much cover on the wings,” added Ashton.
“I don’t think there is any winger in England that is head and shoulders above the rest."
Chris Ashton is representing the England team on behalf of Marriott Hotels, official partner of England Rugby. See how Marriott is reinventing travel at TravelBrilliantly.co.uk.